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04-04-2014, 07:55 AM
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My take on a couple of things last night:

1. This team is pretty snake bitten right now. They're generating a lot of shots (~130 for the last three games), but they're not generating much in the way of second and third chance opportunities. A lot of times they're one and done in the offensive zone. A lot of that is just bad luck recently, but it can also be attributed to the fact that the third forward is often hanging really high in the offensive zone. They're not getting a lot of net drive with two forwards.

2. This team looks like it's going to live or die by the powerplay in the playoffs. The even strength offense has struggled outside of the Giroux line.

3. The defense has played some pretty damn good hockey lately. They're keeping almost everything to the outside and limiting second chance opportunities on Mason. They're finally playing to their strengths of being a strong physical group that can limit opportunities around the net. As long as they continue to get good back pressure from the forwards, they're going to be very good in the playoffs when things get more and more physical.

4. They're still taking too many penalties. You're asking to get burned when you're giving opposing powerplays 3-5 chances a night. The penalty kill has been operating at an insane level lately, so it hasn't been as big a deal, but eventually, they're going to start to come back down to Earth a little bit. And that could spell some serious trouble in the playoffs where they won't be able to outscore the mistakes of bad penalties.

5. This team is missing Downie more than people think. He gets a lot of flack around here, but he's the straw that stirs the drink on that third line. Raffl has been decent in his spot, but he doesn't win as many board battles as Downie does. When Steve is winning those battles, that line looks a lot better on offense. Hopefully he gets back before the playoffs and they can get going again.

6. McGinn has no spot on this club. He's just not an NHL level player right now, and he may never be. He just does everything a half step slower than he needs to at this level.

7. There is still a lot to be excited about with this club. They're playing some very good hockey right now despite the recent results, and they're doing it in a way that transitions to solid hockey in the playoffs. Gone are the days where this team is run and gun. They move through all three zones as a five man unit, and every forward on the roster is becoming more and more responsible defensively.

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